If you're wondering what transhumanism is, the simplest way to explain it is that it's the "blending" of technology and humanity. As humans, we are increasingly capable of augmenting our senses, mental states, and physical abilities through technology. This can be as familiar as using hearing aids, anti-depression medication, and insulin pumps, or as "futuristic" as robotic arms being controlled by our thoughts or taking a pill to help soldiers forget the trauma of battle. Spoiler alert -- both those futuristic examples already exist! And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Not only is our increasingly advanced technology opening up opportunities for people to augment themselves, it is also opening up a host of social, political, spiritual, and personal issues surrounding what we do with this technology. Should it be regulated? Is it even possible to regulate it? How would our religions react to life-extending and life-altering biotechnology? Should people have the right to gain super-human abilities via chemical and biological enhancement? The list goes on... As you might imagine, the conference was FULL of exciting and spirited discussions on these and other topics.
I also gave a talk on teaching engineering at the high school level, and how transhumanism can be brought into the classroom via hands-on "Maker" projects. If you'd like to see my slides, I have included them in this blog post for your perusing pleasure. (see "my_presentation" file at the bottom of this post) But there is one thing from my talk that I'd like to highlight here. Well, a person, actually. His name is Easton LaChappelle, and if you haven't heard of him, you need to stop what you're doing right now and watch this video. He is embodies everything I wanted to present about: smart, self-motivated teenagers who use their own know-how and "maker" instincts to build amazing things that help folks (in the transhuman vein) and spread it around the world. I dare you to not get misty-eyed as you watch this.